eARC Review – No, We Can't Be Friends

Title: No, We Can’t Be Friends

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: January 10th, 2020

295 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating. 

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One. 

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants. 

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret. 

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life? 

Review

**Thank you to Bookouture, Netgalley, and Sophie Ranald for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sophie and Myles are married and Sophie has everything she thought she wanted in life. She has a great job that she absolutely loves, and adoring husband, and is getting ready to try for a baby. One small problem? Myles is cheating and her whole world view flips upside down. It takes her some time to figure out how to handle the situation, while drawing strength and inspiration from her friends and clients at work. She becomes homeless, but over the course of the book everything works out for her, helped along by carefully placed moments that change her thought process and decisions. Myles is scum, but she learns she is more than her marriage – and it’s important to love yourself, not just your husband.

I really didn’t think I was going to finish this book, the first part has a lot of issues due to the crumbling relationship of Sophie and Myles. Myles is clearly cheating, and Sophie just needs to have her “aha” moment and leave him. However, when she finally confronts him, he gaslights her so bad she starts to second guess herself. I really wasn’t sure where the author was going with it, but gaslighting is my hands down least favorite part of any book that features it. It’s such a tired cliche and I was worried the book would just follow in that vein and annoy the crap out of me. BUT! Sophie really has a transformative journey and I’m glad I stuck with it. I really loved the characters (especially the side characters) and the side stories were fun and interesting.

I am so glad the author moved past the gaslighting plot line and Myles got called out the way he deserved (if you read this, you’ll know the part I’m talking about!). It was really great to see Sophie grow as a person into her life, even though she takes several hard knocks.

Y’all should read this if you have a terrible ex, because you could definitely relate. No, We Can’t Be Friends is a solid, quick chick lit read for those who gravitate to this genre. It’s also set in Britain, so the British slang was fun to read for an American like me.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – My Favorite Half-Night Stand

“I should have been more offended. But I only have one emotion, and it’s hunger.”

Title: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: December 4th, 2018

384 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Review

You’re honestly too good for me, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want you anyway.

Christina lauren, my favorite half-night stand

I’m back with another CLo read! I picked this up from Barnes and Noble because it was one of their half off sale books and I’ve loved all the CLo books I’ve read so far. Whereas this one was not my favorite, I still enjoyed reading it and I will still read everything they have, and will, write!

Millie is a college professor with not a lot of luck with dating. Neither does her 4 best friends, all straight men who also can’t seem to navigate the dating scene. Millie’s never considered any of her friends as possible romances, until she drinks too much wine one night and jumps Reid’s bones. Reid lets it happen, and they both end up confused afterwards. The gang decides to make a pact to use a dating app to find a date to the university’s black tie gala, and they can’t take each other. Millie doesn’t have much luck, so she creates a fake persona on the site and matches with Reid. She tries to play it off so he realizes it is her, but he doesn’t. What started as a fun gag gets out of hand, and Reid is starting to like her alternate persona more than her. What’s a girl to do when her best guy friend wants to date the fake, online version of her?

My major, major critique of this book is the catfish plot. It really doesn’t seem believable that this would happen. Also, Millie was kind of an annoying character as she got bad at Reid for being into the alt version of her… which is still actually her? It got a bit confusing what she was mad about after awhile. While this is happening, the real her is also still sleeping with Reid?? So confused.

The hook up happened too soon, as in the first 2 chapters. We barely have any information on these characters and they are already boning. It’s hard to believe they “never considered it before” when it happened almost immediately.

Frankly, the side characters were scads more interesting than Millie and Reid. I wanted more information on the other 3 guys, and hell even Reid’s parents after the scene where they all visit for Reid’s birthday. The side characters were somehow more fleshed out than the main characters, and I was rooting more for them than Millie and Reid.

Outside of all that, I still love CLo books. I read it all in one day and their books are always easy, breezy books that I don’t have to think so hard about. I love reading them after a heavy Fantasy novel just to come back to earth and real life. But honestly, this book just made me want to read The Unhoneymooners again.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Map From Here to There

Title: The Map From Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2)

Author: Emery Lord

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

368 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions. 

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Emery Lord for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the second installment of Paige’s story, you get to see how her senior year of high school goes after everything that happened with Max. Paige is going through the age old struggle of trying to balance school, her future career, and a boyfriend. No matter what she does, one starts to fall and she can’t bear to see it be her boyfriend. Mix in mental health issues causing severe anxiety to flare up – it’s a roller coaster ride of a year. Of course, she’s got her friends, but for how long? Who knows where everyone will end up at the end of the year and she is terrified of making the wrong choice.

I was super into the first book, The Start of Me and You. Watching Max and Paige’s friendship and relationship blossom was beautiful, and so reminiscent of high school. I was less invested in the second book, because I don’t feel like it really WENT anywhere. Things happened for sure – ups and downs, twists and turns. Paige puts herself out there in ways she didn’t in the first book and grew up a ton. But it also came with some sacrifice and sadness as well.

I was not a fan of the ending. I almost felt like I read that whole book for… nothing? The ending doesn’t really explain what happens or what Paige chooses – which is a pet peeve of mine for books. If you love a cliffhanger ending that leaves it up to you to decide what happens – I highly recommend. That just isn’t my favorite writing style and I wanted oh so much more from my fave guy and and gal.

This duo is so beautifully written though. I love how LGBTQIA and mental health themes were added into the second book, because it’s important to remember that these issues will affect teenagers. It also provided some good character definition for the characters who were affected.

Overall, a good ending to Paige’s story, but I wish it didn’t have to end. I’d read a play by play of Paige and Max’s relationship for the next ten years if I could.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – A Love Hate Thing

Title: A Love Hate Thing

Author: Whitney D. Grandison

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Whitney D. Grandison for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Tyson Trice recently underwent a terrible family tragedy, which has left him broken and confused living with the family of a childhood friend he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He is from Lindenwood, a notoriously dangerous area of town, and is now living in Pacific Hills – the rich area. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and he knows it. Nandy is not happy her parents decided to take Tyson in after 10 years, she has perfected her Pacific Hills Queen image and wants nothing that will tarnish that. Also, Tyson is not the 7 year old boy she remembers, this Tyson is hard and scary – and she wants none of that in her life.

Tyson and Nandy go through a whole lot in this novel, and it really is a tale of learning to look past prejudice and bias while recovering from personal loss. This story is not simple or easy, but it’s theirs. It is important to see how far Tyson is able to come back from the brink, and what Nandy can do to grow past her misconceptions. Both learn from each other throughout the novel, even if they aren’t on good terms.

A Love Hate Thing reminded me of the movie The Blind Side. Rich family takes in an underprivileged boy from a rough background. It’s not exactly a 1:1 comparison because there’s no sports involved and the family knew Tyson before he was taken in – but the gist of it was similar. Similar acceptance themes in the affluent community is seen, and I almost think the side character’s interactions with Tyson were more important that Nandy’s. It’s easy to assume Nandy will come around and break barriers (because she’s a MC) but to have the side character’s also noticeably learn from the experience was fun.

This book is LONG. Almost 500 pages focused on Tyson and Nandy’s summer before senior year of high school. There were times that I felt the book continued on past what it needed to, or parts of it could be cut out. It just felt like too much. The story is told in alternating chapters between Tyson and Nandy’s POV – so you get different side characters depending on who’s POV you’re reading at the time – but they do all overlap. I love contemporaries that have a romance component, and especially love when part of it is told from the male (or alternate) partner’s perspective. I feel like it rounds out the book to get both sides.

Go check out A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison, her debut novel!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – We Used To Be Friends

Title: We Used To Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books)

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Review

**Thank you to ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books), Netgalley, and Amy Spalding for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

We Used To Be Friends follows BFF’s Kat and James through their senior year of high school, right up to when they leave for college. The twist is that Kat’s version is told from beginning to end, and James’ version is from end to beginning – and it’s the story of a best friend break-up. Kat and James slowly grew apart over time during their senior year as they got ready to embark on new adventures. Both had a lot of big, personal events happen this year and it was just too hard to stay close.

Honestly, this book hit me in my feelings. I needed to take a day to gather my thoughts before writing this review. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but brought up some past issues within my own life that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. But, I actually love when books seem real enough to affect you – whether positive or negative – which I think is a huge pro to WUTBF. While there was boy/girlfriend drama within the book, it was really focused on the friend relationship between Kat and James, which is rarely the main focus of a YA book, no matter the genre. I appreciated the author’s ability to keep romantic relationships out of the forefront.

The reverse timelines was confusing as times. I started off strong with being able to keep it straight, but then got confused in the middle. By the end I was back on track, but I felt like I needed to write stuff down to keep dates in order. This may be due to reading it ebook style, I’m not sure how the print book will look. I do think the reverse timelines helped tell the story because you could see how events overlapped and were perceived differently between two drastically different viewpoints.

There was no happy ending. I think this was what killed me the most. I wanted a happy ending, some epilogue to remind me that these breakups can be a happy ending. I didn’t get that, but it almost made the read more poignant because it’s REAL. Not everything has a happy ending and that is okay. Sometimes relationships just fail over time and are replaced by others. It doesn’t take away from the importance of the relationship.

Well done, Amy Spalding. Thank you for telling a story that will evoke powerful emotions in anyone who grew apart from a close friend during this time of life – when people grow up, change, and move away.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – City of Fallen Angels

“Or maybe it’s just that beautiful things are so easily broken by the world.”

Title: City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: September 1st, 2015

425 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Review

You left me. You made a pet out of me, and then you left me. If love were food, I would have starved on the bones you gave me.

Cassandra clare, city of fallen angels

My first books of 2020 down! My parents gifted me the rest of TMI and TDA for Christmas, so January is a Cassie Clare binge! I’ve already read the first three TMI and TID, in the order Clare suggests. I have not read the short story compilations she has also released, but I’m pretty sure that aren’t necessary to do in order to understand the plot.

Moving on. I will keep this as non-spoilery as possible, but y’all it’s the fourth book. If you haven’t read the others, you really shouldn’t be reading this anyway, right?

Jace and Clary are my babies. I want nothing to ever happen to them, but it appears Clare doesn’t share my sentiment????? Why you do this Cassie??? So, Jace is being a prick in this book (again) because he’s having terrible nightmares that involve him killing Clary. Clary has no idea how to handle him (I mean, they’ve had it rough so far and she is getting NO break from this people). Simon is dealing with the fact that Clary gave him the Mark of Cain, making him a Daylighter. He already hates being a vampire, and now he’s basically indestructable. Also, he is simultaneously dating Isabelle and Maia which is just shocking because you wouldn’t think sweet Simon would be a player, but here we are.

The plot in this book was pretty standard. We need a new villain now that Valentine is gone, so we get one – in several different forms. Each character is having their own inner crisis and learning bits and pieces of the puzzle at a time. Problem is, they don’t TALK TO EACH OTHER ENOUGH to see the bigger picture of the puzzle. Firmly believe Cassie does this on purpose, because otherwise there would be no point to the book. More demons, more intense brooding, more drama. Nothing groundbreaking, but I still didn’t want to put it down because I am TRASH for these books.

My main problem with this book was that I feel important scenes were cut from the book. It almost felt like she just deleted whole paragraphs during editing, without fixing the transitions and making it seem like we just missed out on something. I wanted to read those conversations that were left out. It’s like I knew it was there, but I couldn’t have it – I could only read the aftermath. It was kind of frustrating, and I don’t remember feeling that way during the original trilogy.

I saw the ending coming a mile away. Do I care? Not at all, because it was a great cliffhanger that made me want to immediately pick up the next book to see what happens to my babies. I understand criticisms I’ve seen about these books, however I firmly believe this book is exactly what it is supposed to be. It is fluffy, YA fantasy, and will only ever be that. Either know that going in (because come on, they’re INSANELY popular) and don’t read it if that’s not your type of book, or don’t complain when it’s over as if you were promised anything more that that. Just my opinion.

Don’t mind me, just going to go distract myself from picking up City of Lost Souls because I have actual adult responsibilities to get to! Happy reading!

eARC Review – Entwined Paths

Title: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2)

Author: M.L. Greye

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: January 3rd, 2020

664 pages

4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Royals support the crown.
Rioters wish to tear it down.

Five years ago, Emry was mourning the loss of her only brother and feeling utterly helpless. When the opportunity arose to travel to the exotic nation of Heerth, Emry jumped on it. Through the help of her friend, Trezim, she learned the skills needed to protect herself and possibly save her country.

The past five years have gone a little differently for Declan. He has been kidnapped, beaten, stolen, robbed of all that he had … and trained to become the fastest man in history. But was it all worth it in the end?

Set in a world where eye color determines one’s abilities, Emry and Declan must discover the hard way that not all eyes are created equally. Yet, when they do find their perfect match, everything seems to pair up nicely.

Review

**Thank you to the author, M.L. Greye, for providing an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

When Greye emailed me asking if I wanted the opportunity to review the second installment of the Swift Shadows series, I jumped at the chance. I loved Of Rioters and Royals and was stoked to get a sequel so quickly. One thing I should mention before I dive in, is that this is a prequel. This was a brief disappointment to me, I wanted to know what was happened next! However, it was very brief because then I saw I got to learn how Emry and Declan came to be, and wowza it was something I didn’t know I wanted but definitely needed.

Entwined Paths takes place 5 years prior to the events in Of Rioters and Royals. You get to see how Emry became The Mistress and what led her to that decision. You see her background with her father, Cit, and Trezim – and how she learned to wield her powers with the strength she does in ORAR. Simultaneously, we get to see what Declan went through as one of the Stolen – and how his powers strengthen with hers. It was lovely to have this level of description to their past selves and experience their trials and tribulations. I especially loved when Emry was competing in the staff competition as she was becoming The Mistress – she’s a powerful lady who really cares about her country and more power to her.

The dream sequences where Emry and Declan met to get through their mutual situations were just so heartwarming. I love their relationship so much and it helped their character arc to see what contact they had before that fateful day where she dropped down from the tree in front of him. I will read anything Greye writes in this world because it is just so fascinating to me. The magic system is completely inspired (your powers are based on eye color) and makes me wish I lived in this world so I could run really past or control fire.

One thing – this book is LONG. It is 664 pages of beauty, yes, but it will take some time to get through. And when I said I was briefly disappointed by the prequel status, I meant it, but THAT ENDING was a brief hint to the current world and I NEED THE NEXT ONE STAT!

These books are available on Kindle Unlimited, so please go pick them up!!

Happy reading, folks!